Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the most common and serious chronic inflammatory condition of the gut. Among the distinct T helper (Th) cell subsets, a Th1 type response is associated predominantly with Crohn's disease (CD) while helminth infections generate a strong Th2 type response. IBD is most prevalent in developed countries but rare in countries where infections with helminths are common. Thus, it has been hypothesized that infection with helminth infection influence the development of CD and recent clinical and experimental studies suggest strongly a beneficial role of helminth infection in IBD. In the present study we examined the effects of rectal submucosal administration of helminth antigens on subsequent experimental colitis. Mice were treated with Trichinella spiralis antigens prior to the induction of dinitrobenzenesulphonic acid (DNBS)-induced colitis and were killed 3 days post-DNBS to assess colonic damage macroscopically, histologically and by myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cytokine levels. Previous treatment with T. spiralis antigens reduced the severity of colitis significantly, as assessed macroscopically and histologically, and reduced the mortality rate. This benefit was correlated with a down-regulation of MPO activity, interleukin (IL)-1beta production and iNOS expression and an up-regulation of IL-13 and transforming growth factor-beta production in colon. These results clearly show a beneficial role of local treatment with helminth antigens for experimental colitis and prompt consideration of helminth antigen-based therapy for IBD instead of infection with live parasites.